Local SEO Keywords for Beginners
What Are Local Citations?
Local citations are online mentions of a business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) as well as additional information on various websites, directories, or platforms. They play a significant role in local SEO by helping search engines verify a business's existence, legitimacy, and trustworthiness.
For example, if you were searching for an electrician in Leicester, you'll find local citations of businesses on Yell.com:
Why Are Local Citations Important?
Several important factors make local citations critical to local visibility in search engines.
Increases Presence on Key Platforms
Local citations enhance company presence on key platforms for accurate data and customer engagement, as not all users find businesses using search engines, but prefer to look on directories or other websites instead such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and specialist directories (e.g. British Chiropractic Association)
Boost Local Rankings & Visibility in SERPs
By adding local citations, it can boost search engine performance by maintaining a comprehensive and precise online presence on reputable sites, giving the business more visibility in the search engine results pages.
Local citations help search engines in confirming a business's existence, legitimacy, and trustworthiness by appearing consistently across multiple relevant and trusted websites.
Capitalise on First-Page Search Results
By listing your business information on websites and platforms that already dominate first-page search results and have built up a strong authority, it will allow your business to show up in the top search results without having to compete with these websites.
Get Referral Traffic
When your website is listed on platforms and directories, especially popular ones, it can lead to receiving referral traffic that otherwise wouldn’t have happened. This can further boost traffic to your website, possibly leading to additional customers.
Information Required in Local Citations
The information required by local citations can vary platform by platform, however, there are a few core pieces that are required, and others that are optional.
Match your citation information up with the information in your Google Business profile for consistency.
Two Types of Local Citations
Local citations can be split into two categories: structured and unstructured citations. Let's explore both to understand the differences.
Structured citations are standardized mentions of a business's name, address, and phone number (NAP) on websites and directories specifically designed to display local business information. These citations often include additional details such as business category, hours of operation, and a website link.
Structured citations are typically found on business listing sites, online directories, and social media platforms, providing a uniform and organized way for search engines to verify and understand a business's information.
Unstructured citations are casual mentions of a business's name, address, phone number (NAP), or other identifying information on websites that are not specifically designed for displaying local business listings, such as blogs, news sites, forums, apps, maps, and government databases. This is where a business is referred to or discussed, but not in a formal directory or listing format.
For example, an unstructured citation might appear in a blog post where a local restaurant is mentioned and praised for its excellent food and service. The author might include the restaurant's name, address, and phone number in the text of the post, but since the blog is not a dedicated business listing site, the citation is considered unstructured.
What makes an unstructured citation valuable is based on the website’s location, industry relevance, and authority.
Other Examples of Local Citation Types
Some examples of local citation types include:
Local citations can be submitted through automated software, manual forms, or PR/marketing.
Backlinks vs. Citations
What’s the difference between local citations and securing a backlink from a website?
Backlinks are simply just links pointing back to your website from another website and contain anchor text that gives context to where the link leads.
Although local citations may include a hyperlink to the business website, it’s common for no links to be present, and just plain text with the business information such as the name, phone number, and address.
Where to Secure Local Citations
Every country may have different aggregators, directories, or platforms to submit your business information through, so it’s important to do your research to make sure you find the primary ones. To get you started, below are some of the common ones:
The UK has quite a few primary citation sites:
Additional ones are listed in a longer table here.
The USA has three primary aggregators:
You can also check out the following common platforms as well:
If you are looking for other platforms, you can leverage Google or other search engines to discover local platforms, by searching the following:
[your business location] Chamber of Commerce
[your business location] business directory
[your business location] business directory
[your business location] business listings
Here is an example of what this search looks like.
Below are a few more resources:
Importance of Local Citation Consistency
When it comes to local citations, consistency is number one. Maintaining accuracy and consistency in both structured and unstructured citations is crucial for local SEO. Avoid discrepancies like displaying different phone numbers across various platforms.
Citations serve as confirmation to Google that your business is genuine, legitimate, and accurately represented, as the information is supported by multiple sources. Ensuring a uniform name, address, and phone number across various websites is essential for conveying trust signals to Google as well as building consumer trust.
A study found that 80% of consumers lose trust in local businesses when they encounter incorrect or inconsistent contact details or business names online.
Tracking Local Citation Performance
Before you submit any website URLs to your local citations, consider using UTM tags to track how much referral traffic you will get from each one.
Use the following URL as a template to create unique links, one for each citation platform that you add a URL to. The following template applies to businesses with multiple locations.
Replace location with the location of your business and city name with the city your business is located in.
If you just have a single location, you can use the following instead:
Hike + Local Citations
As a small business owner or Agency that services small businesses, Hike SEO is a perfect platform to help you with keeping your local citations consistent online. Hike will recommend directories to submit your business information to, and then check for consistency and accuracy, so you can correct any issues right away.
Try Hike today, and you can start improving your local SEO using all the powerful but simple tools that can help you become more visible in local search.